A high school student, Wang Quan Sheng, bikes to school while listening to music on his earphones. He’s buying breakfast when he spots someone else bike by. He buys an extra, then bikes after the other boy. The boy looks back and smiles at him. They bike along happily, one just behind the other.
At school, Quan Sheng hands the boy breakfast through his class window. They smile at each other. He cheers him on during a basketball match, and exchange eye contact and smiles. After the game, Quan Sheng hands the boy a towel after gym class, then tells him he likes him. The boy stares back with an angry look, then throws the towel down and walks away.
Quan Sheng is in the bathroom when a couple of boys barge in, saying they heard he likes boys. They call him derogatory terms while shoving him around. Behind them, he sees the boy he likes walk in, their ringleader. They call him disgusting, but he pushes through and forcefully kisses the one he likes on the mouth.
“Is it disgusting that I like you?” he asks.
The boy shoves him away and punches him, then runs away.
An empty bike sits by the shore. Quan Sheng sits on the beach, staring out at the sea while listening to his music. He hopes that one day the world will change and that it won’t matter who he likes.
He abandons his phone and headphones and walks out to sea.
Li Zi Wei runs up a stairwell in an abandoned building, panicked. He arrives at his destination floor and freezes. Chen Yun Ru is unconscious on the ground with a stab wound, blood pooling around her. Above her kneels Mo Jun Jie, a bloody, jagged piece of glass in his hand. He stares up at Zi Wei, tears in his eyes.
Zi Wei bolts awake and looks at the room around him. It was just a dream.
But the room around him is still unfamiliar. He looks at the ID card in his wallet: he is Wang Quan Sheng. The calendar on his desk says it’s 2010. He thinks back to Yun Ru’s story about how she was someone named Huang Yu Xuan and he was someone named Wang Quan Sheng.
Zi Wei goes downstairs and awkwardly greets Quan Sheng’s parents as mom and dad. His mother is warm but his father gives him a long look, then looks away with a disappointed shake of his head. Zi Wei tells them that he’s heading out.
Quan Sheng’s mother is worried that he’ll do something to himself again and wants to follow, but his father tells her to leave him be. His father trusts Quan Sheng’s word that the seaside incident was just an accident. But his mother blames his father for being too harsh on Quan Sheng when he was younger. She doesn’t believe that it was an accident he almost drowned out at sea.
Zi Wei takes the train to Tainan, where he finds the now-shuttered 32 Records shop. He smiles to see it’s still there and thinks back to when he was actually Li Zi Wei and hung out with Jun Jie and Yun Ru there.
Someone suddenly calls his real name, “Li Zi Wei.” He turns.
It’s Uncle Wu, looking much older than he did in 1998. When Uncle Wu sees him, he asks if he really is Li Zi Wei.
They go into the store to chat. Li Zi Wei explains that he is Li Zi Wei, but he also isn’t. His consciousness is Li Zi Wei’s, but his body and physical identity is that of Wang Quan Sheng, just like how back then, Chen Yun Ru had claimed she was actually Huang Yu Xuan. Uncle Wu is more willing to believe that it’s true now. He admits that he lives in Taipei now, where he opened a coffee shop. They both think it’s hilarious, because neither would have thought he would end up owning a coffee shop. Uncle Wu says that it was Yun Ru (or more accurately, Yu Xuan) who brainwashed him into the idea back then, by insisting that he had opened a coffee shop in 2019.
Zi Wei asks after Yun Ru’s mother and brother. Uncle Wu says that Yun Ru’s mother remarried and Si Yuan is almost about to married as well. They’re both happy. As for Yun Ru… no one really talks about her anymore. But he doesn’t think it’s because she’s been forgotten. Rather, everyone seems afraid of remembering.
Uncle Wu wonders if things might have turned out differently had he believed Yu Xuan back in 1998. Would they have been able to stop her from dying?
Zi Wei tells Uncle Wu not to blame himself over what happened. He asks him what happened to 2003’s Li Zi Wei after the car accident.
We hear the story as we watch Zi Wei revisit his old high school and nostalgically remembers his high school days. Uncle Wu tells him that in 2003, Li Zi Wei fell into a coma after his accident. He was declared to be in a permanent vegetative state. His parents took him back to Canada.
Zi Wei also asks Uncle Wu about Mo Jun Jie. But we don’t hear the answer.
Back in Quan Sheng’s home, Zi Wei looks up Huang Yu Xuan on social media. He finds her profile and scrolls through her pictures with a sigh of relief that she exists.
Zi Wei goes to Taipei to find Uncle Wu at his coffee shop. Uncle Wu is surprised to see him and calls him Li Zi Wei before Zi Wei smiles and reminds him that he’s now Quan Sheng.
Zi Wei tells Uncle Wu that he has an answer now to his question of what he’s going to do now that he is Wang Quan Sheng. He remembers that back in 1998, Yu Xuan once told him that if she suddenly left one day, he shouldn’t be sad. It wouldn’t be the end of the story, but would be the beginning. He didn’t understand then, but he gets it now. He plans on moving to Taipei, getting into the visual arts department at her university, and become the Wang Quan Sheng that 2019’s Huang Yu Xuan knows. Maybe that way, he can help change what happens in 1999 to Chen Yun Ru.
As Zi Wei is leaving, Uncle Wu rushes after him and hands him a box. He tells him it contains some possessions that Yu Xuan left behind in 1999. At the time, he thought there was a slim possibility that everything she said was true, so he held onto it in the off chance that it might come in handy one day.
Afterward, Zi Wei waits on the streets near Yu Xuan’s college campus, hoping to see her. He finally does, and smiles, but she walks by without recognizing him at all.
Zi Wei flips through some old photos of him, Jun Jie, and Yu Xuan’s version of Chen Yun Ru with a smile. One of the photos, the original one that 2019 Yu Xuan saw that sparked her discovery of Chen Yun Ru’s identity, brings back a memory of the day that the photo was taken.
Zi Wei gets ready to move to Taipei, but Quan Sheng’s parents are worried to see him go. He reassures them that he’s not the old Wang Quan Sheng anymore. He’ll be okay. He gives both parents warm hugs, surprising his father and bringing tears to their eyes.
In Taipei, Zi Wei moves into an apartment above 32 Cafe. Uncle Wu is all too happy to help Zi Wei save some money on rent and be able to concentrate on studying for his college entrance exams. Zi Wei quickly gives the empty room life, taping up Yu Xuan’s photos from 1998.
Zi Wei works hard and studies hard to get into college, becoming the type of diligent student that he never really was in his own high school days. He’s studying and working one day at his part-time job at a coffee shop when he looks up and sees that Yu Xuan is his next customer. He stares and smiles at her, not believing his eyes, though to her he’s nothing but an overly friendly barista. He can’t stop staring and smiling after her as she leaves.
Zi Wei struggles to come up with something to draw during an art class (or is it a test?) He closes his eyes and thinks back to that memory of Yu Xuan as Yun Ru running in the rain. He starts drawing that scene again of the high school girl running the rain. He says to himself that he knows all of this is fate giving him a second chance. This time, he won’t waste it. In a re-imagining of that rainy scene, he sees himself not letting Yu Xuan run off alone. Instead, he tells her, “Huang Yu Xuan, I like you.” He doesn’t let her go, and they kiss in the rain.
The day of college admission decisions arrives. Uncle Wu is cleaning around his coffee shop when he realizes what day it is and wonders why Zi Wei hasn’t come by yet. Is he ashamed to show his face because he didn’t get in? But right on cue, Zi Wei suddenly bursts into the coffee shop yelling Uncle Wu’s name. “I got in!” he exclaims excitedly, still yelling as he picks Uncle Wu up off his feet and swing him around in a hug like an adorable puppy with his favorite toy. He sets him down, gives him another hug, then runs outside as quickly as he came in.
Uncle Wu chuckles to himself and wonders if getting into Yu Xuan’s university is really that exciting. But he’s pretty happy himself and tells his employees that all drinks are free for the rest of the day.
Zi Wei tries on several different outfits on the first day of school, wanting to make a good first impression on Yu Xuan. He tries to figure out what he should say to her, trying out some lines that range from boring to creepy, but finally decides he’ll just figure it out when he sees her.
On campus, he wanders around trying to figure out where his department building is. A fellow student points him in the right direction, but then he gets a sudden strike of inspiration and asks for directions to Yu Xuan’s department instead. He looks around for her and finally sees her, but has to run after her to catch up.
When he finally taps her on the shoulder to get her attention, he realizes that he hasn’t figured out what he’s going to say yet. He finally settles for asking for directions to his department. But while she’s explaining, he stares at her and zones out. She ends up offering to walk him there instead.
But Zi Wei isn’t able to make much of an impression or much leeway into building a relationship with Yu Xuan just by asking for directions. He’s in the middle of registering at the new student table when he suddenly runs off after Yu Xuan again.
He stops her as she’s about to go up a staircase, yelling to her that he likes her and wants to date her. It’s a scene that we’ve seen before, from Yu Xuan’s perspective. Now it becomes very obvious why Yu Xuan was very confused by his declaration: they only just met a few moments ago.
Yu Xuan is level-headed and not about this kind of wild declaration of love. She tells Zi Wei that she has a boyfriend. And soon, the boyfriend shows up, a senior in her class named Du Qi Min. The two of them leave together, leaving Zi Wei feeling defeated. He’d never heard mention of a boyfriend before!
He’s still in a defeated daze when he goes back to the new student sign-up table, and ignores a student behind him, who recognizes him from high school. The student, Chen Cai Yu, is persistently friendly, but Zi Wei ignores him… until he invites Zi Wei out to dinner with some freshman girls in Yu Xuan’s department whom he met on an online dating site. Zi Wei perks up and introduces himself.
At dinner, Zi Wei tries asking the girls if they know Huang Yu Xuan, but it’s only the first day and they barely know people in their own year. As luck would have it, though, he quickly finds Yu Xuan: she’s a waitress at the restaurant.
Unfortunately for Zi Wei, he’s already made it onto her bad side. When she finds out that he and Cai Yu met the girls at the table through an online dating site, she warns them away, saying that they shouldn’t trust boys who confess to someone in the morning, then go on dating sites at night.
Zi Wei runs away to the bathroom to hide and lament his bad luck. When he comes out, he runs into Yu Xuan again. He tries to explain himself, but she tells him that there’s no need to explain because they barely know each other. She does think that he’s being over-familiar with her by using her name, though. She tells him he can just call her xue-jie (“senior”). When he tries to talk to her more, she threatens to burn him with the hot coals in her hand. He slides out of the way, then watches her go with sad puppy eyes.
After dinner, Zi Wei makes Cai Yu wait with him outside the restaurant. Cai Yu guesses that he’s waiting for Yu Xuan to get off work. They do see her leave, but her boyfriend immediately shows up to pick her up, so Zi Wei never gets a chance to talk to her. Defeated, he rides off on his motorcycle.
On his way back to campus, Zi Wei spots Yu Xuan and her boyfriend chatting, laughing, and generally being cute together outside a food stand. He goes to find Uncle Wu to drink and vent his sorrows. He tells Uncle Wu that he finally understands how Yu Xuan felt when she first met him in 1998. It sucks to see that the person you love doesn’t recognize you and won’t even listen to you.
Uncle Wu tries to be sympathetic, but also seems to find the situation a little funny. Did Yu Xuan never mention to Zi Wei that she had a boyfriend before Quan Sheng? Zi Wei responds unhappily that she would only ever talk about how great Quan Sheng was. But then he remembers a conversation he had with Yu Xuan.
Zi Wei had asked Yu Xuan why she didn’t try to forget about Quan Sheng if her memories were so painful. She hadn’t responded, and he had tried to cheer her up by saying that he would find her before she met Wang Quan Sheng and make her like him. He would move to Taipei, go to her school, and chase her every day until she agreed to date him. She had laughed at him, saying that he would probably be 30 and that she would never be attracted to his method of chasing girls.
Zi Wei had asked her what he would need to do to make her like him when she didn’t know him. She said that his best bet would be to be like Wang Quan Sheng. To be patient and thoughtful. Quan Sheng had always tried to find ways to be close to her, but in very natural, casual ways. When she first met him, he was very good at making girls feel comfortable.
Uncle Wu gets Zi Wei to snap out of his reminiscing. Zi Wei smiles and says that Yu Xuan had actually told him everything he needed to know. Uncle Wu is confused.
Zi Wei tries a new tactic. He and Cai Yu sign up for a class that Yu Xuan is in and quickly befriend her friends, much to her annoyance. He also gets himself hired at the same restaurant she works at, so that she’s responsible for showing him the ropes. When she confronts him about following her around and purposely making her life difficult when she already has a boyfriend, he has very innocent explanations for everything. He suggests that maybe she only feels awkward about it because… she also feels something for him? He continues to tease her but act like she’s the one making a big deal about nothing, which is possibly true, and with a charming smile and pat on the shoulder, leaves her frustrated.
Uncle Wu calls someone on the phone, saying, “Everything has happened the way you said it would.” Zi Wei got into Yu Xuan’s university and they have met. On the other end, the real Li Zi Wei, wearing glasses and bearing a cane, hangs up and studies a framed photo of him, Jun Jie, and Yu Xuan/Yun Ru.
Mo Jun Jie gets released from prison. He’s surprised to find someone waiting for him outside the gates. It’s the real, post-accident Li Zi Wei, cane and all.
“Hi. Long time no see,” Zi Wei says.
These timelines are starting to get hard to keep track of! I’m surprised that two of Li Zi Wei’s consciousnesses can exist in the same time. It must be a weird feeling, orchestrating your own romance and life from above, watching someone who is kind of you, but also not you, fall in love with the person you love.
I wonder if the scene at the beginning with Li Zi Wei finding Mo Jun Jie standing over Chen Yun Ru’s dead body was a memory or a dream. It’s probably a memory, since all the other “dreams” have been memories. And it’s such a teaser of a memory, because now we’ll just be wondering how things got to that point.
Knowing that the 2019 Li Zi Wei has been orchestrating things from afar also emphasizes that there are no coincidences. I have a feeling that not even Uncle Wu meeting Quan Sheng at his record shop in 2010 is a coincidence. It’s just too much of a coincidence that they would both visit Tainan on the same day, and in this story, there are no coincidences. Everything happens for a reason, and usually they don’t happen by chance.
The scene with Zi Wei as Quan Sheng leaving his parents was short but so sweet. To me, it illustrated how Li Zi Wei and Huang Yu Xuan are so perfect for each other in a way that is meant to be. They’re both so warm and their hijacking of their respective doppelgangers’ lives have spread that warmth and love to their families as well.
Being able to see Yu Xuan’s college days with Wang Quan Sheng (whom we now know to be Li Zi Wei) and how their relationship developed is so dang cute! It gives new meaning to every memory Yu Xuan had of Quan Sheng, now that we know that he knew who she was all along. It makes sense why, during their conversation about a time machine, he told her that he would go back to his past self and tell him to hold onto her and never let her go. And there’s also a bit of poetic fate in how she said that she would go back to him and tell him that she was the one who would love him — because that’s exactly what she ended up doing, and he knew it then, even if she didn’t.
It’s also kind of sad that they have the kind of star-crossed romance that is time-crossed. They both get to be happy, but neither fully knows the identity of the other, and that’s also sad. The whole time that Huang Yu Xuan is dating Wang Quan Sheng, she doesn’t really know who she is, while he knows everything. That’s painful, to love someone when you know that they don’t fully remember who you are. And she has to go through the same exact thing when she becomes Yun Ru and meets Li Zi Wei for the first time.
But it’s also so sweet and beautiful because now it makes sense why Wang Quan Sheng always loved Huang Yu Xuan so unconditionally. He knew that it was his second chance and he didn’t want to waste any moment of it and he wasn’t going to let her go. That’s why he put up with her even when she got mad and why he always so unashamedly proclaimed his love for her. To him, it was all worth it. Thinking about it just gives me happy tears.
I think the real Wang Quan Sheng and real Chen Yun Ru’s stories are the saddest by far. As far as we know, it seems like they never really return to their own lives. They just kind of… disappeared. And that’s so tragic! It seems like Zi Wei lived as Quan Sheng up until Quan Sheng perished on that flight to Shanghai. So Yun Ru never got to appreciate that someone actually liked her for who she was. And Quan Sheng never really gets to see a world in which he could be accepted for who he was and who he liked.